Current Research and Dissertation Projects

Germany has lifted its total ban on Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD, a form of genetic testing), but the new rules are still much stricter than those in other European countries. Results from a large-scale survey experiment show that the general population holds more permissive views on this bio-ethical question than lawmakers. In a country seen as a paradigm for the "religious world" of morality politics, many citizens even support further liberalisation along the lines of legislation in Belgium and the UK.

Induced reflection on the arguments raised in parliament does not change this: arguments in favour of PGD are widely accepted by respondents, whereas many citizens reject the arguments against PGD. Citzens' and MPs' respective evaluations are affected strongly by religiosity, whose levels in the population are much lower than in parliament. Widespread secular views are not adequately represented in politics. This does not only concern the regulation of PGD but also other current and future bioethical issues. It is unlikely that this tension can be resolved through electoral politics. These findings have important ramifications not just for practical morality politics in Germany and other "religious world" countries but also for the two worlds framework itself.

Publications:

Arzheimer, K. (2015). Strange Bedfellows: The Bundestag’s free vote on pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (pgd) reveals how Germany’s restrictive bioethics legislation is shaped by a christian democratic/new left issue-coalition. Research and Politics, 2(3), 1–7. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2053168015601130

Arzheimer, K. (2020). Secular citizens, pious mps: why german attitudes about genetic testing are much more permissive than german laws. Political Research Exchange, 2(1), 1-25. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2474736X.2020.1765693

Arzheimer, K. (2020). A partial micro-foundation for the "two-worlds" theory of morality policymaking: evidence from germany. Research & Politics, 7(2), 1-7. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2053168020917823

Comparative research on the radical right has focused mainly on national-level indicators and individual motivators to explain variation in support for these parties. Some case-study approaches use sub-national models to look at within-country variation, but to date there is an absence of comparative research formalising the role of the meso-level across countries in radical right support.

This comparative study proposes an interdisciplinary political science, sociology and geography team to construct a multi-level analysis of four key countries (France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK) which provide varying institutional, infrastructural, socio-economic and attitudinal contexts in which to study the phenomenon. The three-year project will first collate all available secondary political and socio-economic data from official sources to establish an across-time database at multiple levels of territorial aggregation. Second, it will build upon these macro-/meso-level foundations with a standardised large-n survey across the four countries, to collect an up-to-date set of individual demographic, attitudinal and behavioural indicators. Finally, these will be combined in a full mixed model of radical right support, identifying the comparative role of context and individual attributes

The results will provide an unparalleled level of detailed understanding of such determinants, of importance both to academic understanding and to stakeholders’ policy planning and implementation.

For more information please visit the project website.

This project is the focus of my present research activities and considers the intersection between party research and digitalisation research from a political science point of view. Particularly from a comparative perspective, I analyse the question, whether political parties use web-based technologies to fulfil their classical party functions. Thus, the aspects of organisation, communication and participation are important as well as finance and expenditures/investments. For this purpose, I propose a five-pillar-model that includes the dimensions of membership, leadership and candidates, program, public image, and resources. In every dimension, parties can shift their processes to the digital sphere. However, I do not conclude that they should shift every process to the digital sphere.

In my research area, I am part of an international network of political scientists, who study the digitalisation of political parties. We organise constantly conferences and panels, publish together in different teams, and prepare and submit proposals for external funding. At the moment, we are working on a bigger European grant application. As a member of the management committee, I contribute to the coordination and the draft.

My present publications and talks can be found on my personal website.

Dr. Filip has previously worked on the topic of Euroscepticism, as well as the exploration of the so-called globalization trilemma: the degree to which countries can balance and pursue all three of national sovereignty, liberal democracy, and globalization.

In his past work, Dr Filip has explored the trends of so-called Eurosceptic Contagion, plotting and describing the manner in which the success of Eurosceptic Parties can influence the behavior of mainstream parties. Further inroads in this field of research also explored the manner in which inclusive and exclusive identity traits among individuals explain the propensity to support radical political parties. During a stint at the Hertie School of Governance, Dr. Filip worked on mapping the degree to which countries manage to navigate the often contradicting pursuit of national sovereignty, the protection of social cohesion, the preservation of liberal democracy and commitments to economic globalization. His work mapped the social, political and economic stresses that countries are subject to in accordance with the said “globalization paradox” and their consequences.

In the coming year, Mr. Filip will work on a series of articles exploring the dynamics of party/vote switching as well as exploring more closely (and comparing) the constituencies associated with said trends.

Mainstream moderate political parties are seeing their electoral support drop as ever more of their constituencies are turned away by policies over globalization, immigration, rising inequality, the environment, or general apathy and lack of trust in elites. Significant parts of these constituencies do not, however, exit the political stage, taking their vote instead to political actors outside the established mainstream, such as the far right, green parties, or new social liberal parties.

These voters and constituencies are, however, diverse and vary in motivations, as do the (target) parties that they ‘take their vote to’. This research agenda will examine which of these various constituencies are defecting to which other parties (exploring the issues causing such shifts), and study the socio-demographic, economic, cultural, and ideational characteristics of said party-switching dynamics.

The scientific concept used to assess the quality of a given election is called electoral integrity. Past research in this field mainly draws on expert surveys and analyses defect democracies or semi-democratic systems to measure electoral integrity and to gain insights on its determinants and consequences. Measurement instruments that try to assess electoral integrity using mass surveys among citizens are less fine-grained and mostly suffer from severe weaknesses in their application and design. Furthermore, there is no consensus about the definition of electoral integrity, which further questions the validity of measurement instruments applied. Consequently, it remains poorly understood how citizens perceive electoral integrity, especially in established democracies where experts usually deem electoral integrity to be very high.

In times where populist parties’ and initiatives’ claims, as well as technical and human errors related to the conduct of elections, together with developments that are visible in Germany and other established Western democracies, like diminishing turnout for established parties, social polarization, disenchantment with politics, and the use of new, alternative channels of participation and information gathering pose challenges to liberal democracy, citizens’ assessments of electoral integrity might actually be much more ambivalent and differentiated than current measurement instruments show. Therefore, the aim of my dissertation project is to make citizens’ potentially more ambivalent and differentiated assessments of electoral integrity visible by developing a new and more suited measurement instrument that will be applied in Germany. I start with a critical evaluation of the concept and the dominating definitions of electoral integrity before I build and empirically test a new measurement instrument on this basis.

While party identification functions as one of the strongest determinants for explaining voting decisions in general, it has long been underestimated, if not ignored, when it comes to research on voting behavior in favor of populist radical right parties. More recent studies highlight the importance of this well-established construct by arguing that a lack of identifications with mainstream parties or even negative orientations towards mainstream parties are necessary preconditions for populist radical right voting. In Western Europe, however, it is the populist radical right party family with the highest negative partisanship. In contrast to the group of voters of populist radical right parties, the large group of rejecters, i.e., people who hold a negative partisanship towards a populist radical right party, should be very heterogeneous. Voter heterogeneity is well known in the literature but hardly considered. Therefore, the aim of the dissertation project is to combine the findings of negative partisanship and voter heterogeneity in the context of voting behavior and populist radical right parties to answer the following questions: Which factors lead to a negative partisanship towards populist radical right parties, to what extent does the strength of the factors vary among different subgroups of the electorate, and what are the consequences of negative partisanship towards populist radical right parties for voting behavior in general? To answer these questions, representative survey data are analyzed using advanced analytical techniques, such as multiple group analysis and structural equation modeling.

Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) election results vary considerably between different German regions and localities. To explain spatial variance in AfD electoral successes, the project focuses on mechanisms that link contextual- and individual-level factors. Additionally, it examines the effect of spatial disparities and the development of the contextual situation over time on the individual vote choice for the AfD. Geo-referenced individual data sets as well as local macro-level data are used, which allow to investigate the mechanisms on different spatial levels, but above all on a very local level.

For further information please visit the website of the department for comparative politics.

Currently, I am working on a paper claiming that partisan effects on the welfare state hinge on how the two dimensions of the policy space relate to each other. Due to the rising salience of the cultural policy dimension in recent decades, the set of issues over which parties compete is more volatile than it was in the “golden age” of the welfare state—the prime time of partisan effects. This has implications for how and why social classes align with political parties, the responsiveness of political parties in office and consequently, as I argue, the way left and right governments influence social policy.

This final paper of my cumulative dissertation is also supposed to connect the two lines of my previous research that pertains to the party politics of the welfare state on the one hand, and electoral dynamics in multi-dimensional policy spaces, on the other.

For further information on Sven Hillen and his research please visit the website of the department for comparative politics.

Over the last decade, European democracies has been facing a multifaced crisis marked by economic, social and political features. The growing doubt towards the European edifice in conjunction with the outburst of the global financial and the recent refugee crisis have contributed to the further strengthening of the anti-establishment party current and the emergence of a division between the countries of the Western European ‘prosperous North’ and ‘defective South’. During this period, anti-establishment parties of different ideological shades have evolved into notable players along the dimensions of the Western European party competition irrespective of the ‘order’ (first, second) of each election leading to the subsequent partial shrinkage of mainstream parties. By focusing on the European elections from 2009 until 2019 – a temporal framework that indicates the investigation of the vote for anti-establishment parties before the onset of the financial crisis and during the rebound of party systems from the multilevel implications of the latest European crisis – my main research goal is investigate the complementary interrelationship between the demand-side and supply-side context in order to approach the determinants that contributed to the transformation of anti-establishment parties into remarkable electoral players along the party systems of the Western European North and South.

Publications

“Anti-establishment coalition governments in Southern Europe: Greece and Italy”, APSA Preprints (with Prof. Dr. Vasiliki Georgiadou), September 2020, 10.33774/apsa-2020-0pl3n

“Voting for far-right parties in the 2014 European Elections”, Science and Society: Review of Political and Moral Theory, 38 https://ejournals.epublishing.ekt.gr/index.php/sas/article/view/17744

“Mapping the far-right vote in the European electoral arena: The Greek far-right in cross-national perspective”, Greek Politics Specialist Group (GPSG) Working Paper Series https://gpsg.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/working_paper_31.pdf

For more information see also: Department of Political Science and History Panteon University and Research Gate.

Scholarly work regarding the relationship between economics and elections is among the most voluminous when it comes to theories of voting behavior, explaining election outcomes, forecasting elections... Numerous studies have treated an economy as valence issue and found evidence to support the claim that: when the economy is good citizens vote for incumbents, and when the economy is bad they tend to “throw the rascals out.”

In the recent years, after the Global Financial Crisis, the economy in most European states has continued to recover. However, we are left with the puzzle that incumbents continue to lose support. Thus, the preliminary research question of the project is: why are incumbents losing support in economic good times?

My assumption is that the nature of economic voting has evolved and that economic voting is multidimensional. I suggest, in line with a developing strand in the literature that the economy is a positional issue too.

The project aim is to address the questions mentioned above in the European context, providing an opportunity to compare the effect across Europe. I would investigate how rising inequality shapes peoples’ attitudes. How the policy positions they take on this very important issue affect their party choice? Also, how the ones who are in most need for more just economy react to it. Are they silenced or waken up by the situation they are in? Also, in the project I plan to analyze how taking positions on economic dimensions affect both, the decision whether to participate and vote choice.

Contact Information:

Slaven Živković

Research Associate and Data Processing Specialist for Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) project

GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

e-mail: slaven.zivkovic@gesis.org